Tuberculosis & BCG Vaccinations

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is an ancient disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, which is spread from person to person through coughing mainly. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. Until the middle of last century there was no treatment available. The risks are very low in WA but can be very high overseas depending on exposures and destination.
    Latent TB means exposure to the bacteria has occurred without the body developing any symptoms. Occasionally this can cause active infection in the future. Hygiene precautions are most important as well as early detection following exposure.
    Vaccination is rarely given for travel.
    TB Control in Perth CBD is the only clinic in Perth which may give BCG vaccine
  • Symptoms

    Active TB presents with fever, night sweats and weight loss, followed by a cough that lasts more than 2 weeks, coughing up blood and sometimes accompanied by chest pain.


    Hygiene precautions are most important as well as early detection following exposure.Vaccination is rarely given for travel. The exceptions to this are children under 5 yrs visiting family and relatives or going to live in higher risk countries for prolonged periods.


    • Who is at most risk of contracting TB?

      People living with someone who has active TB disease.
      Migrants and refugees, especially those from developing countries. Refugees and asylum seekers are carefully screened for TB on arrival in Australia.
      Those who live or work for long periods in countries where TB is common. This includes health care workers, humanitarian workers and volunteers.
      Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in some parts of Australia.
      People whose immune systems are weakened by diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, silicosis or by immunosuppressive therapy.
      People living in residential institutions, including prisons, or in crowded, substandard housing or on the streets.

    • Can TB be prevented with the BCG vaccine?

      A vaccine against TB is available (BCG). It provides good protection in young children, but is not very effective in adults. BCG is no longer part of routine vaccination for children in Australia because of the low level of risk here. It may be offered to children under 5 years travelling for more than 6 months to high risk countries.

    • How do you get tested for TB?

      This depends on whether we are looking for active disease or exposure. Our doctors will guide you. Testing can include sputum culture, blood tests (Quantiferon Gold), skin testing (Mantoux Test) and a chest x-ray.

    • How is TB treated?

      Most TB can be treated and cured with a course of 3 or 4 antibiotics taken together for about 6 months. Good compliance is essential for an effective cure, however antibiotic resistance is increasing globally. Latent TB is treated with a short course antibiotic regime to prevent future illness.